Meet Our Fellows: Alex Mullin T’21March 5th, 2021
I‘m originally from Canada but grew up in Dallas, Texas.
What did you do prior to Tuck?
I worked as a life science consultant with Navigant, and then at a health tech startup in San Francisco called Forward, which is a direct-to-consumer, tech-enabled preventative healthcare company. The role provided me with the opportunity to build up key operations and really bolster our recruiting team. My time at Forward has definitely given me the startup “itch,” and I could see myself moving in the startup direction sometime in the future.
Why did you choose Tuck?
I spent most of my undergrad and working years in Silicon Valley, so I sought out something that would be vastly different and provide a new experience for me. Until my move to the Upper Valley, I had never lived on the east coast and hadn’t been to New England, and there was something about living in the woods that was appealing to me.
I think people are intentional when they choose Tuck. When I visited campus for the first time, people were so nice and welcoming. There wasn’t anyone I met who I didn’t want to get to know better. It felt comfortable and at home, and I knew I had found the place for me.
Do you have any post-Tuck plans yet? If so, what are they?
I will be returning to CVS Health, where I interned this past summer, on the business development team. I will be based in Boston. It’s a fantastic team that works on everything from identifying and conducting diligence on investment and partnership opportunities, to executing on those and other M&A efforts. I’m excited to gain some experience in the venture/investment space at a player that’s integral to the American healthcare system and increasingly focused on innovative, digital health solutions.
What made you want to be part of the CDS MBA Fellows Program?
I didn’t want to lose the “Tech Edge” after leaving Silicon Valley. When I was living in Silicon Valley, I’d be in conversations with people, and they’d bring up tech topics that I wasn’t always familiar with. When I learned more about the center, I felt that it could help me keep my tech knowledge sharp, while also exposing me to other ideas and concepts that I wasn’t as familiar with. My career has been heavily concentrated in health care, and the center has been a great resource to expand my tech “tool kit” and has introduced me to peers who have great insights and experiences into technology and digital strategy across industries.
What is the best part about being involved with the CDS?
It has been one of my favorite Tuck experiences. The people are so amazing and fascinating. I’ve learned so much from my peers and the center team through our conversations. Getting to know and meet our guest speakers has opened up my eyes to being curious about more aspects of tech. The CDS has gotten me more interested in areas that weren’t on my radar before. I may not have felt more comfortable asking questions about the role of software outside of health care, but now I am more comfortable “not knowing” and knowing I have a place or people to turn to to help me out has been great. Learning agile in the Agile Tech 101 (taught by Will Maness T’21) was a game-changer to me! I feel like I can have more intelligent conversations with peers now.
What other activities are you involved in at Tuck?
In addition to being a CDS Fellow, I am also a Fellow with the Center for Health Care. The Center for Health care always has excellent guest speakers and a wonderful cohort of students. I am also a Co-chair of the Tuck Volunteers club. We just wrapped up our food drive benefiting a few wonderful community organizations in the Upper Valley! It was so inspiring to see the students and faculty come together and contribute.
What has been the biggest growth moment or moment where you stepped out of your comfort zone? What did you learn from that experience?
Through Tuck, I applied to be a Flare Capital Scholar (Flare Capital is a venture capital firm that focuses exclusively on Digital Health). I did a research project for this that involved interviewing a lot of CEOs to better understand the opportunities and challenges for tech to facilitate improved care for opioid use disorder. I was initially a bit terrified conducting these interviews with high profile individuals, but everyone was very open to sharing their perspectives and experiences. The entire experience was really fulfilling and fun, giving me more confidence in my interviewing skills (and cold emailing people to talk).
I’m currently taking a class called Communicating with Presence. The premise of the class is about being over-expressive and present in the moment, which is something I’m really glad I can learn at Tuck with my classmates. It’s really interesting to learn how to leverage acting and theater principles.
Before Tuck, I didn’t know anything about accounting, so learning finance and accounting principles has of course been a great growth moment for me. I have a new appreciation for it. Over the long December break I was a Teaching Assistant for the Tuck Bridge program, which really pushed me. At Tuck, we do a lot of group work, and this really drove home the idea of “You don’t really understand something until you teach it.”
What speaker(s) have you learned the most from in your time at Tuck?
The most interesting speakers to me are the ones where I’m not familiar with their industry or their line of work. I loved hearing from Laura Scott T’03, COO of grocery micro fulfillment company Takeoff Technologies. I knew nothing about her industry, their challenges, or opportunities, so listening to and learning from her really opened my eyes, especially from an Ops point of view.
Sara Russo T’11, Senior Director of Strategic Programs at Arm, joined the CDS fellows for a Digital Drop-In earlier this winter term. She was wonderful! Sara took concepts and ideas that were (for me at least) “in a black box” and was able to make them more digestible and understandable.
In my Digital and Social Marketing class, Michael Aragon T’01, Chief Content Officer at Twitch, was a guest speaker and he was really fascinating to learn from. In the CDS, we have had several conversations around topics like gaming, so going into the conversation with Michael, I felt well-prepared and comfortable asking deeper, more pointed questions of Michael.
What books are you reading, podcasts are you listening to, or shows are you watching?
A few recent favorites that come to mind are Less by Andrew Greer, Modern Lovers by Emma Straub, and Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan. In terms of non-fiction, I really enjoyed Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans.
TV wise, I loved ‘The Undoing.” I’m also a big fan of British humor and have recently gotten into “Peep Show.” Netflix has a couple great, niche competition shows like “Blown Away” and “The Big Flower Fight.”. Something about people being very passionate about very specific things is really wonderful.
What are your hobbies and interests?
In my free time in San Francisco, I loved taking improv classes. This is something I plan to do in Boston as well. Beyond that, I really enjoy fiction writing. I actually published a book of short stories on Amazon this past summer, featuring some of my favorite ones I’ve written over the past 5 or so years. I’m also a pretty novice hiker, though I do love exploring the outdoors. Spending this past summer in the Upper Valley hiking, swimming, and seeing more of NH/VT was a fantastic experience.
If you could “turn on” one ability (it must be realistic), what would it be? In other words, you can’t say “I wish I had the ability to fly.”
Silly answer: breakdancing. More useful answer: probably instantly being able to code in a bunch of programming languages. Though considering that breakdancing is now an olympic sport, maybe that one could be useful too.